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FEIC Getting to Know You: Scott and Leah Schesser

‘Getting to Know You’ introduces you to pastors and ministry leaders within the Fellowship of European International Church network. In this story, we highlight Scott and Leah Schesser, Community and Family Pastors at Church for Dusseldorf / Interim Pastors and Organizers for FEIC

Share with us a little about your life pre-Europe: where you are from, where you went to school, and what you studied.
Scott grew up on and off military bases in both the United States and Asia, and Leah grew up in a small town in Michigan. We both started at North Central University and graduated from SAGU with degrees in Church Ministries. Leah is currently completing her Master of Divinity also through SAGU.

Tell us about your call to ministry and what kind of work you did before you came to Europe.
Scott was called into ministry on the streets of Okinawa doing outreach in the bar districts and prostitute alleys. As he saw lives changed, he committed to God that he wanted to be a witness the rest of his life. The call was confirmed when we were in Bible college together.
From Bible college, we served with Youth for Christ for five years. We started youth ministries on military installations as missionaries. We did this in New Jersey and Iwakuni, Japan.

While in Iwakuni, God transitioned us to pastoring a church that was slated to close due to low numbers and financial problems. We saw God take that one-room church and grow it into a thriving church in a six-story building. It was known at the highest levels of the community as a place of change.

Scott also pastored (long-distance) another international church in northern Japan that was going to be let go by the field. God did a great work there, and it almost tripled in size one year after a female missionary and her husband came on board.

Scott and Leah Schesser, Community and Family Pastors at Church for Dusseldorf / Interim Pastors and Organizers for FEIC

How did God lead you to Europe and describe your assignment?
We had always assumed we would be in Japan for the entirety of our missionary career, so we were surprised when God told both of us that we were finished with the work he had for us there.

After praying and talking with leadership, we were encouraged to look at Europe. As a child, Leah had said she would never go to Japan, and as an adult, Scott had said he would never go to Europe!

We were offered many assignments in Europe but didn’t feel called to any specific one. We met with Terry Hoggard and discussed where he felt the greatest need was in Europe. He believed that the greatest need was for someone to take the role of full-time interim pastors for the Europe region. We have served faithfully in that position for the past seventeen months, ministering throughout Europe. During this time, with Larry Henderson’s help, we have established a list of vetted missionaries and pastors who are also able to serve as interim pastors for FEIC. We are now able to help assign these missionaries and pastors in interim positions throughout Europe and FEIC.

With more freedom to do ministry elsewhere, and with a slowing down of the need for interim ministry, we have decided to also help a church in Düsseldorf, Germany. We will work with the pastor to develop English-speaking ministries, as well as help develop internal structures, dream teams, children’s ministries, and provide general oversight. It was God’s timing for us to be a part of this growing church. We have been blessed by the reception and opportunities God has given us.

Why did you guys choose to base in Düsseldorf and what do you enjoy about living there?
We wanted to minister downtown in a large city and were originally drawn to Düsseldorf due to the large concentration of Japanese that live here. There are seven large cities close to each other in this area of Germany and we came and prayed over each of them. After talking with the Superintendent of the BFP (German AG), he also felt this was the right area to see English ministries established. The final decision of this specific church was made after meeting with the pastor and seeing a Spirit-led connection and similarity in visions.

Where have you had the opportunity to minister in Europe and in our IC churches so far?
We have served in Padova, Italy; Kaiserslautern, Germany; Gran Canaria; and Malta. We have also been able to serve ministries through remodeling projects in our respite center in Malaga and a Christian conference center located in a castle in Ireland.

Tell us about one or two experiences you have had that were transformational – either in your lives or the lives of someone you’ve ministered to in Europe.
In each church we have seen many decisions for Christ. That has been encouraging to see as interim pastors.

We have had the opportunity to not only fill in as pastor, but counsel members, organize projects, develop and start ministries, and rebuild internal structures that were needed.

Here are some testimonies.
·       “I am excited to go to church, which I haven’t felt for a long time.”
·       “I feel like God has really pushed me into being more bold in my leadership in the church.”
·       “You guys have inspired me to start sharing Christ with the people around me. So many of my friends have no interest in spirituality.”
·       “I’m used to African pastors who have special seats and special titles. I was shocked when Scott didn’t make me call him pastor and climbed into the ceiling laying wires like the rest of us.”
·       “Every time I left the ladies Bible study, I felt refreshed and strengthened – ready to start the week ahead.”
·       “I’ve started fasting for….and God moved!”
·       “I wish my Dad was as encouraging as you. Although I’m not a Christian, I feel at home here in the young adults group.”
·       “Thank you for encouraging me in my giftings. I thought about what you said and I think God is wanting to stretch me.”
·       “There’s such an expectation in the church service now. I can’t wait for our pastors to come back and we see it continue. I feel like a revival is starting!”

What do you guys enjoy about working in international church ministry?
I think it reminds us of churches back home in New Jersey that have upward of 100 nationalities in one church. As we saw in our church in Japan, international believers feel at home and nationals feel greater freedom in worship. We believe international churches can grow quickly because they welcome a wide variety of nationalities, perspectives, ministries, and preaching styles.

As you’ve worked with some of our churches, what do you see as some of the most pressing challenges of European international churches?
The challenges we have seen are the need for interim pastors, growth in outreach, internal structures and systems, recruiting and maintaining volunteers, and development of children’s ministries. We have been able to help each church in these areas and more.

Any thoughts on what your future looks like in Europe?
For now, we will commit to developing the structure/systems in the church in Düsseldorf as well as do interim ministry as the needs arise. We will also assign people to fill interim assignments when applicable. Beyond that, we are praying about the next step.

How can fellow FEIC member pastors pray for you guys?
We are constantly traveling and have not had a home for eighteen months. We just signed a lease for an apartment in Germany. We appreciate prayer as we settle in our neighborhood, buy our car, and begin to connect with our church in the city. New ministry opportunities and change are a part of this ministry, so we always appreciate prayer for wisdom, strength, and endurance. We want to see God do a great work in our churches!

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